Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


I have decided this year to give three products I personally bought a special mention for their usefulness and good design qualities.

Firstly I will start off with the Manfrotto 24 LED light that I picked up for £69 in my local Jessop store, it takes two AAA batteries and has a dimmer. There is nothing fancy about this light other than its extreme portability and usefulness on corporate shoots.

This wee light is carried about in your pocket and can be a God send if you need a small bit of fill light as happened to me on a shoot only last week. On two occasions I had a need to light peoples faces and this wee chap was just the trick.

Its well made for its size 70mm x 55mm and comes with a removable cold shoe.

My second useful product was the Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro, this has been invaluable in many ways over the last 4 months. Picture quality is nothing short of fantastic and with firmware updates you can now see your sound levels coming out of your camera.

I used it recently when I shot a two camera demonstration of manual handling and I took a 5 meter HDMI output from my second Sony NX70 and sat the viewfinder next to my NX70 so I could monitor my sons output as he is in training.

The other thing its great for is monitoring high shots especially using the Sony FS100 as the LCD design is shockingly bad for use in high shots.

It was not cheap at $1000 but is the best of its kind to date and built like a tank.

Recently I purchased another tripod an ACE from Sachtler, I saw this at IBC 2011 and was very impressed with its overall build quality Sachtler have finally learned that not everyone can afford their £2-3K tripods and to be frank those tripods are not fit to use with a Sony NX70.

As you can guess the NX70 needed a tripod and at just over £500 the ACE with mid spreader fitted the bill. Sachtler have made a fine job with their first budget tripod and amazingly its very usable with its basic drag and tilt system.

So there you have it three tools that I have been impressed with during 2011 more often than not for their simplicity in use and size, the LED light just ticks all my boxes for filler shots, the Zacuto EVF Pro not only looks good but outperforms itself with such an accurate LCD screen and the Sachtler ACE is the right tripod for smaller camcorders like the Sony NX70 and at just over £500 performs better than a lot of tripods twice its price.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

3 thoughts on “3 Products of 2011

  1. Interesting to see you went for the ACE to pair with the NX70. I’d looked at the Compass you use but felt it would be wasted on such a light camera, instead I went for the Vinten Blue. Have to say I’m very happy with it, the NX70 is a little light for it technically but so far I’ve found the level of drag I need to offset the counterbalance actually works out at about the sort of drag level I like. I can always add a manfrotto plate adaptor to get another half kilo and inch in height and other users find this brings the whole rig into the right range.

    What a value most about the Vinten is the fact that both the drag and balance are continous and not stepped. That and it’s a lovely silky smooth system far removed from my jobbing Manfrotto system, something I suspect the Sachtler shares.

    It’s going to be interesting to see where the heavyweights like Vinten and Sachtler go in the future now that there are high quality cameras in the sub 2 kilo mass range where traditional fluid head design that relies on the camera being large and heavy does not work well at all.

    As an aside if you can borrow a Vinten Blue from Prestons I’d love to see a Blue vs ACE piece from an experienced guy such as yourself. I’m happy with my choice but it was a hard one; the 2 systems are such obvious alternatives to each other and so far there have been no comparative reviews to help people looking for such a system make a choice.

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